GWMHL

Archive for the ‘DEN’ Category

Season Preview: Plante East

In DEN, PIT, SAL, Special Features, SSR, WIN on October 7, 2018 at 11:08 am

Welcome to the first of our 2018-19 season previews: brief overviews of what’s new, what’s old, and what’s expected as 20 GWMHL clubs prepare for a new year.

We start our tour of the league in the Plante East, home of the defending Gump Cup Champs.


Denver Spurs
Last Season’s Finish: 45-29-8 (4th in conference); lost in 1st round
Notable Arrivals: F Martin Frk, F Carl Soderberg, F Stefan Noesen, F Brian Gibbons, F Noel Acciari, G Anton Khudobin.
Notable Departures: F Riley Nash, F Marian Hossa, F Jaromir Jagr, F Lance Bouma, F Derek MacKenzie, D Thomas Hickey

The Spurs headed into last season having acquired Brayden Holtby, Marian Hossa, Mike Fisher, Erik Karlsson, and Jaromir Jagr, and the spending spree paid immediate dividends, vaulting Denver into playoff position and helping them take a high-powered Parry Sound to 6 games. Now, with Jagr and Hossa out, Fisher unlikely to play much, a quiet offseason, and no 2018 draft picks until the fourth round, expectations are lower — a lot lower. The Spurs still have Karlsson to lead a solid defense alongside Keith Yandle, but the forward ranks are paper-thin after Matt Duchene, Cam Atkinson, and Derick Brassard, even after the signing of Carl Soderberg. Spurs fans will likely need to be patient until the 2019 draft when they can start replenishing with top-end talent.

Verdict: Rebuilding


Pittsburgh Hornets
Last Season’s Finish: 32-39-11 (7th in conference); missed playoffs
Notable Arrivals: F Evan Rodrigues
Notable Departures: F Joel Ward, F Matt Martin, D Dmitry Kulikov

After limping along to a 7th place finish in ’17-’18, the Hornets might seem to be stuck in neutral — they didn’t make a single trade during or after the season and most of its top prospects need another year. What the Pittsburgh front office seems to be banking on is the continued growth of a fine core to finally give stars Evgeni Malkin and Victor Hedman the supporting cast they deserve. Bigger contributions from Ivan Provorov and Noah Hanifin on the back end, plus Timo Meier, Anthony Beauvillier, and unheralded Danton Heinen up front should put the Hornets firmly in the playoff race if they can get a strong performance in goal from Ben Bishop.

Verdict: Playoffs


Salem Sabercats
Last Season’s Finish: 42-27-8 (2nd in conference); won Gump Cup
Notable Arrivals: F Anze Kopitar, F Vladimir Sobotka, D Brandon Montour, D Samuel Girard, G Marc-Andre Fleury
Notable Departures: F Mattias Janmark, F Patrick Sharp, F Sonny Milano, F Ondrej Kase, F Brendan Perlini, G Craig Anderson, G Steve Darling

It shocked many observers that Salem, widely seen as a team on the decline, managed to capture yet another championship. But smart drafting has kept the Sabercats competitive even as key vets have retired. A drop-off seemed inevitable, despite the emergence of young forwards Yanni Gourde, Bo Horvat, and Travis Konecny, plus the addition of Brandon MontourSamuel Girard, and Travis Dermott to a very deep blueline, keeping them in the mix. Above all, the acquisition of Marc-Andre Fleury from South Side will have the biggest impact, allowing the Cats to trim some fat in goal. At the end of the day, Salem’s best veterans — Alex Pietrangelo, Nicklas Backstrom — can still produce with the best of them, and the late-preseason pickup of Anze Kopitar will be crucial in keeping up with other contenders’ top-line talent.

Verdict: Contender


South Side Renegades
Last Season’s Finish: 17-60-5 (10th in conference); missed playoffs
Notable Arrivals: F Nico Hischier, F Teuvo Teravainen, F Artem Anisimov, F Sonny Milano, D Cody Ceci, D Deryk Engelland, D Jake Dotchin, D Dylan DeMelo, G Tristan Jarry
Notable Departures: F Ryan O’Reilly, F Micheal Ferland, F Nikolai Kulemin, F Lee Stempniak, D Jake Muzzin, D Jonas Brodin, D Cody Franson

Renegades fans survived a terrible season with the best kind of silver lining: the first overall pick. With it, South Side gained centre Nico Hischier and a fresh new outlook. With four first round picks in 2018, plus the acquisition of young forward Teuvo Teravainen, the rebuild is off to a good start — but it’s not over yet. Although Hischier joins a nice group up the middle, alongside Dylan Larkin and Mika Zibanejad, there isn’t much talent on the wings yet. And the once-strong South Side defense corps is looking pretty shaky after Seth Jones, Colin Miller, and Cody Ceci. Connor Hellebuyck will probably steal them some games and it would be surprising if they plumbed the same depths as last season, but it’s looking like another rebuilding year for the Renegades.

Verdict: Rebuilding


Winnipeg Falcons
Last Season’s Finish: 44-32-6 (5th in conference); missed playoffs
Notable Arrivals: F Chandler Stephenson, F Vinnie Hinostroza, F Kyle Brodziak, D Will Butcher, D Trevor Daley, D Carl Gunnarsson, G Darcy Kuemper
Notable Departures: D Andrei Markov, D Fedor Tyutin

The Falcons missed the playoffs by a mere four points last season, and they remain a bubble team this year. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Mike Hoffman will still lead things up front, and the addition of rookie Will Butcher will be a boon to Winnipeg’s defense. But there are many question marks: Can Ryan Suter lead a blueline comprised of mostly 4-5-6th defensemen? (His partner may well be someone like Trevor Daley, a late free agent pick.) Can netminder Jake Allen rise to the challenge as starter? Will the real Corey Perry please stand up? The Falcons are a team that can surprise opponents, especially if they get favourable line matchups, but they’ll need some luck to break into the conference’s top four for a playoff berth.

Verdict: Bubble

Advertisements

Great Lakes Deals Hartnell

In BOS, DEL, DEN, GLP, Transactions on July 2, 2016 at 10:10 am

The Great Lakes Pilots have shipped veteran winger Scott Hartnell to the Delta Sturgeon. In exchange, the Pilots get Brad Richards and Delta’s 4th rounder in 2016. Hartnell is coming off a surprise 52-goal, 92-point season.

From Delta GM Andrew Martin:  “This has nothing to do with Brad Richards. He filled the role we asked him to fill, and was a consummate professional. However, the coaching staff has decided to move Nathan Mackinnon to Center for the upcoming season. This really necessitated us looking at our roster and seeing if we had adequate big bodies to fight in the corners. The answer is a resounding no, and so we have been on the lookout to obtain someone to help dig pucks out for our talented Centermen. We’re happy to have added Scott to our club, and look forward to him helping us in our bid for a playoff spot in the upcoming season.”

In other news, the Boston Banshees sent depth centre Boyd Gordon to the Denver Spurs for Great Lakes’ 4th, previously acquired in the deal that sent Joffrey Lupul to the Pilots.

Passing of the Torch in Denver

In DEN on October 16, 2015 at 8:33 am

By Richard Poelker, Denver Spurs

Denver SpursSome stalwarts in the history of the Denver Spurs franchise have recently been released. While it was tough to see some of these franchise leaders go, it was time to bring in youth.

Three of the players released were fan favorites and team leaders so they will not only be missed by the most loyal fans in the GWMHL but by the organization and teammates as well.

In a special pre-season ceremony at the Denver Coliseum, home of the Denver Spurs, the first to be honored was the #2 scorer in franchise history with 767 points, Captain Vinny Lecavalier. Vinny has been a member of the franchise since he was picked number 1 overall in the 1999 rookie draft when the franchise was known as the Brooklyn Blackhawks. This lasted through the ’02-’03 season when the team moved to Illinois for one season in ’03-’04 and was known as the Illinois Chiefs. From there Vinny packed his bags and moved with the club to the sunny climes of California for the Sun Cats jersey from ’04-’05 through the ’07-’08 season. Then it was onto Texas to be known as the Midland Bulldogs from ’08-’09 through the ’10-’11 season.

Then the franchise arrived at their current home in Colorado at the Denver Coliseum and has been known as the Denver Spurs from the ’11-’12 through the present. So Vinny’s tenure with the club lasted 16 hard played seasons with many moves over the years! A bunch of nomads to be sure. Perhaps the club should be named the Nomads! I digress. Not only is Vinny the #2 all time scorer in franchise history (a mere 30 points behind Bill Guerin), he also is #3 in goals (293), #1 in assists (474), tied for 4th in PPG with 64, 6th in SHG with 7, 3rd in GP (1042) and surprisingly 4th in hits with 1,544!! It’s safe to say that Vinny’s skates won’t be filled for a very long time, if ever. His only regret has to be that he never hoisted the Gump Cup in his illustrious career and only went as far as the Conference finals 3 times when in California and Midland.

Also honored was Danny Briere, 6th in goals (228), 5th in assists (340) and 5th in points (568) in 734 GP (9th all time on the franchise leader board).

Next up was Mike Richards, who also appears in several of the franchise leader categories with some of the most notable being 12th in goals (139), 12th is assists (234), 11th in points (373), 14th in GP (625), 3rd in SHG (12), 5th in FO (50.46%) and #1 in corner win Pct (61.58).

Also leaving the franchise, but in a trade, was #1 all time franchise +/- leader Brian Campbell with a +184!! The offensive blueliner also was 17th in goals with 84, #2 in assists behind Vinny with 396, #6 in points with 480. Not bad for a blueliner in 704 gp. Pominville was the key acquisition in dealing Campbell. Another fan favorite for sure! Also leaving in a trade was Joffrey Lupul who was #9 in goal scoring in franchise history with 157.

As previously mentioned, all these will most certainly be missed by the fans and organization but hopefully the future is bright with recently drafted youngsters Josh Jooris, Cedric Paquette, Jiri Sekac, Curtis Lazar, Duncan Siemens & Joel Armia.

Which Deadline Pickups Made the Biggest Impact After 24 Games?

In DEN, NAS, SCA, Special Features, STL, VAN on June 12, 2013 at 9:42 pm

streit

It was the most active trade deadline in recent memory. 24 games later, most of the players who found new homes have had a chance to show what they’ve got. But which teams’ acquisitions made the biggest difference?

1) Saint Louis Blues (17-6-1 since deadline)

The Blues were a good team before the deadline, but that didn’t deter them from making bold moves – and it paid off. Daniel Alfredsson (9 goals in 24 games) and Alex Steen (13 points in 12 games) were notable producers, but the real impact was on overall team depth. They’ve never been harder to defend.

Read the rest of this entry »

Lynx Send Andrei Kostitsyn Packing

In DEN, EDH, News, Transactions on April 26, 2013 at 2:18 pm

The El Dorado Lynx have sent winger Andrei Kostitsyn to conference rivals, the Denver Spurs. In return, the Lynx pick up journeyman forward Chris Thorburn and a 4th round pick.

Just one point separates the Spurs (24-14-2) from the Lynx (23-14-3) in the Plante. Will Kostitsyn have an impact on a squad that’s thin on the wing? Time will tell.

Biggest Midseason Surprises of 2011-12

In DEN, EDH, IHS, NAS, News, SCA, Special Features, STE on January 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm

We’re halfway through our season. So what’s been raising our eyebrows?

As a Rule, Eagles are Pretty Badass

The Sterling Eagles have missed the playoffs four seasons in a row. But after 40 games, they’re second overall in the entire league with a stellar 23-12-5 record, and even managed to steal five points on the road against division rival Salem. They’re getting help where it counts, like unheralded winger Nikolai Kulemin, who already has 22 goals. Previous career high? Eight.

Backups Earning Their Keep

The Eagles’ Tim Thomas has the numbers (1.88, .939) but backup Johan Hedberg is winning more games. His record is 12-6-0 to Thomas’ 11-6-5. Likewise, the Ice Harbor Storm’s Alex Auld (.914) and Jonathan Bernier (.933) are busy overshadowing the “starting tandem” of Mathieu Garon (.885) and J-S Giguere (.874).

Pick One Already!

The Storm aren’t the only one with a menagerie of netminders in a pen out back. Five goalies have seen action for the Nashville Knights already this season: Sergei Bobrovsky (17 games), Cory Schneider (16), Ray Emery (3), Brian Boucher (3), and Mike Smith (1). That’s two rookies backed up by three vets, and the elevator pitch for an ensemble basic-cable sitcom.

Ovie-Shadowed

Alex Ovechkin is not leading the El Dorado Lynx in points. That’s kind of remarkable. The Lynx are okay – still in good playoff position at the halfway point, actually – thanks largely to the ageless Teemu Selanne, who has 18 goals and 45 points to Ovie’s 20 and 41.

Giddy-Up?

The Denver Spurs offense could use a swift, spiky kick in the rear. They don’t have the lowest GF, but let’s break it down: they’re deep up the middle and shallow on the wings, and that means they’re leaving lots of goals on the table. Mike Richards and Daniel Briere each have just 18 points in 40 games. Joffrey Lupul is their top scorer but has the lowest point total (28) of any team leader league-wide. Oh, also, he’s nursing an injury that could see him miss significant time.

Head of the Class

The top five draft picks (Skinner, Hall, Seguin, Eberle, and Stepan) are all playing pretty well, but they’re trailing in the rookie scoring race to an unlikely gaggle (herd? colony? murder?) of youngsters: South Carolina’s Tyler Ennis, Nashville’s PK Subban, Ice Harbor’s Mikael Backlund, and Baltimore’s Michael Grabner.

Brett Freaking Clark

Subban isn’t just the second highest scoring freshman so far. He also leads all defensemen in goals with 13, which might just make him the leading rookie-of-the-year candidate at this point. But that’s not even the most surprising development on Nashville’s blueline: Brett freaking Clark already has 10 goals, people. That’s just crazy.

Surprises Abound After Q1

In BOS, DEL, DEN, News, PWH, SAL, STE, WVR on December 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm

The first quarter of 2011-2012 is in the books, and what a wild one it was. Consensus contenders Salem and Portland had strong starts (13-5-2 and 10-7-3 respectively) but they’ve both been overshadowed in the early-going by some surprising competition.

Banshees, Eagles Fly

The Sterling Eagles and Boston Banshees, neither of whom managed to top .500 last season, share the lead in the standings with 14-5-1 records. The secret? Goaltending. Boston’s tandem of Henrik Lundqvist and newly-acquired Michal Neuvirth and Sterling’s Tim Thomas and Johan Hedberg are simply getting the job done.

Wannabees Can Still Score at Will

The Wannabees (13-5-2) are just a point off the pace and, incredibly, are averaging a whopping 4.5 goals per game and outshooting their opponents by 15. Last year’s Gump Cup runners-up might be ready to take another shot.

River Rats Tread Water

But maybe the biggest surprise is the poor record of Crosby-less defending champs West Virginia (9-8-3), putting them fourth in the Sawchuk East. With the offensive depth on this team, it’s a dismal start. Will Crosby’s eventual return get the Rats back in the running?

Power Outage in Denver

The Denver Spurs wrapped a disastrous 7-12-1 quarter, and it’s easy to see why: Matt Duchene leads the team in scoring with just 13 points in 20 games. Vincent Lecavalier has just 3 points in 10 and Mike Richards just 11 in 20.

Advantage… Sturgeon?

The Delta Sturgeon are off to a league-worst start (5-15-0), but would anyone have guessed this team would start the season with the league’s second-best powerplay? The unit, featuring the likes of Jarret Stoll and Andrew Ladd, is clicking at 27.1%, just .2% behind first-place Portland.

Season Preview: Plante

In BAL, CHA, DEN, EDH, GLP, PIT, SAL, SCA, STE, Uncategorized, WIN on November 26, 2011 at 10:00 pm

The Sawchuk Conference has its powerhouses – and the last five cups. But the Plante is where all the intrigue is.

Apart from a strong Salem squad fresh off a trip to the Gump Cup Finals, the entire conference is full of dark horses – young teams, growing teams, sure, but few that are in flat-out rebuilding mode. That kind of parity makes the conference incredibly tough to call.

In – D Ryan McDonagh, F Nino Niederreiter, G Jacob Markstrom, D Michael Sauer, F Blake Geoffrion, F Teemu Hartikainen, F Brandon Prust
Out – F Evgeni Malkin, F Cal O’Reilly, D Bryan McCabe, F Darroll Powe, D Anton Stralman, F Rob Schremp, F Jamie Langenbrunner

Baltimore made the boldest move of the off-season, unloading Evgeni Malkin for all of Pittsburgh’s draft picks. That meant a pretty big personnel turnover – 7 guys in and 7 out, not counting poor Steven Kampfer, released before he even got a sniff. It’s hard to look as this as anything but a small step backwards in the short term, but any team with Anze Kopitar is poised to compensate for the loss of a player of Malkin’s calibre, and the team still has a strong core in its prime.

In – F Luke Adam, F Matt Halischuk, F Matt Calvert, D Jason Garrison, F BJ Crombeen, F Mike Knuble
Out –  G Michal Neuvirth, F Alexander Frolov, F Benoit Pouliot, F M-A Pouliot, D Kurtis Foster, D Oskars Bartulis

Charleston should be a playoff team, there should be little doubt of that. After a surprising trip to the finals led to two straight years of mediocrity, the Chiefs started rounding back into form when Steven Stamkos hit the scene. Now that they have a marquee scorer, they have a roster with few glaring weaknesses, and with Miikka Kiprusoff and Jonathan Quick splitting duties in goal, they should be one of the Plante’s better teams.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bulldogs to Denver; Oregon Heads Down I-5

In DEN, News, SFS on August 1, 2011 at 11:16 am

The Midland Bulldogs are pulling up roots and heading to Denver, team officials have announced. The former ‘Dogs will be reborn as the Denver Spurs beginning in the 2011-2012 season.

In a long-rumored move, the Oregon Rugrats have also found a new home, heading down the coast to become the San Francisco Seals.

Midland and Vancouver Swap Forwards

In DEN, News, Transactions, VAN on July 2, 2011 at 9:28 am

The Midland Bulldogs and Vancouver Night Train have kicked off the summer with a center-for-winger swap.

The move sends pivot Tomas Plekanec to Vancouver, who are looking to recapture the ’09-’10 form of a team that was deep up the middle, for winger David Jones.

The Bulldogs are hoping that Jones, who has played 64 games over three seasons for Vancouver, gives them a top-six goal-scorer to play alongside the likes of Vincent Lecavalier, Danny Briere, Mike Richards, and Matt Duchene. Plekanec, meanwhile, is coming off a disappointing year (21 points in 61 games) but will likely see more icetime behind Jonathan Toews on the Night Train.

Read the rest of this entry »